How to write a Lab Report
The experiment that you do in a science lab might get over in a flash but the lab report will take ages to make. That is unless you don’t know how to go about it. Laboratory reports can be confusing; the format, what to add, what not to add, the questions are endless.
We’ve been through it too and we want to make sure that you don’t spend endless hours just poring over this. Let’s take a look at how to write a lab report and what exactly should you expect.
What is a Lab Report?
A laboratory report is a document written to describe and analyse an experiment that is of a scientific enquiry. A lab report helps you to conduct an experiment and then systematically design a conclusion based on your hypothesis.
The outline of a typical lab report goes like this:
- Abstract: 50-150 words, summarise the objective of the experiment.
- Equipment: names and numbers of the equipment used
- Procedures: Steps followed during the experiment
- Conclusion: Justification or negation of your hypothesis based on results.
Most common mistakes in lab reports
Since it is a lab report format is very technical, there tend to be inaccuracies in it. The fact that it can get tedious sometimes also does not help. Some common mistakes in a lab report are:
To be or not to be?
Just going around in circles will be the death of your report, much like the death of Hamlet. Indefinite objectives and unclear motives are a big no-no if you want to write a lab report. The resulting document will be a mess, a muddled discussion of ideas that you yourself are not sure of.
How much is too much?
Unnecessary details and excessive elaborating does not make your report sound smart. The why and what of the experiment can be summarized and explained in two lines. It will be difficult to process and the original focus of your lab report will be lost within the other details that you don’t need.
Grammar, Syntax and Punctuation errors
The big picture should have impeccable details. Even if the material and content is correct, not paying attention to the smaller details like the grammar can make your report sloppy and hasty. Some common grammar errors are using contractions, using personal pronouns like I and me, using adjectives excessively etc. To know more about punctuation and grammar, check out our blog.
Overlooking minor details
Since a laboratory report is different from a normal report, there are certain technicalities that we need to keep in mind. But it is very common to make small mistakes which could prove detrimental later. Some of these are: not putting a space between the number and the unit, absence of labels for the equipment and chemicals (if you have used any) and an interchanging of the mathematical symbols.
How to write a lab report
Laboratory reports are not just another passive demonstration of your grades, they are empirical proofs on whether you have understood the topic or not. This is why there are a few guidelines that are important if you want to churn out a good lab report.
Devote a good chunk of your time to planning how you want your science lab report to turn out. This includes the objective of your report and what exactly do you want the outcome of it to be. This helps to streamline the entire process and helps you work according to that. Call it a measuring device if you will; steering you on the track and not letting your work diverge from the goal.
Record, Record, Record
If you think that you have a sharp memory and don’t need notes, think again. Everything that goes on in the lab needs to be written down, however insignificant it may be. This way, when something is amiss in your report, you can always refer to what you have recorded and find out. Recording data is a good way to retrace your steps and keep a clean check of the experiment through and through.
It’s the little things
The small details in your lab report format matter very much in contributing to how it looks like a whole. A primary focus on the details help you to understand the topic better. A few of these details are:
– Write the scientific name of the plants or micro-organisms in italics, since they are in Greek or Latin. For example: “Mangifera indica”, commonly known as Mango.
– Avoid redundancies. Repeating terms is only good for parrots and not for a lab report.
– The long life of your report is very likely to be cut in half with overtly long and complicated sentences.
– Make a flowchart of your science report format, so that it is easier for readers to keep track.
The most intelligent of topics can go completely to waste if they are written badly or sloppily. Grammatical mistakes are very easy to overlook in the rush of making a perfect report. Some grammar pointers for you are:
- Refrain from using two voices in your science lab report format. Use either an active voice or passive voice. If you use passive voice, your sentences will be much longer. That is why we would suggest that you use the active voice since it is more concise and to the point.
- Watch your use of informal words or phrases like “as I was saying earlier”, “even if”, “whether” etc.
- Do not begin paragraphs with an unrelated sentence. For example, for explaining the conclusion of a biology lab report, don’t start it with sentences like “As confusing as it is, biology is still interesting”. The paragraph does not become about biology by using this phrase, it just makes it awkward and trying too hard.
To help you guys out, we’ve collected a few samples of the format, material and writing style of how an ideal science/lab report should look like.
a. Basic Lab report template
b. Chemistry lab report sample
c. Example of good labelling
Trial, trial till you succeed
Even if it gets tedious, there is an abundance of resources to help you make that perfect lab report. Make sure that you don’t procrastinate and prepare well before the due date and you’ll ace it! Check out tips on editing, proofreading and formatting on PaperTrue’s blog, which will certainly save you one hell of a headache.
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